Saturday, August 01, 2015

Farmer's markets are for fresh produce -- and for dithering

The drive from Palisade, Colorado, to the Cheyenne Farmer's Market is eight hours.

I'm glad that Red Fox Run Orchards made the trip for the first time. Juicy peaches. Tree-ripened. The vendor tells me that most growers pick their peaches green because it's easier. He lets them ripen on the tree so they taste better. My daughter Annie and I ask for a sample. He plucks two peaches out of a "Palisades Peaches" box. He rinses them off and hands them over with a couple paper towels. "You'll need these -- they're juicy." I look at the whole peach. Most vendors cut off a slice and hand it over. Not this guy. I bite. Juice dribbles down my chin. The paper towel comes in handy.

I buy a large bag. "Keep them in a refrigerator for a week -- they'll keep fresh," says the vendor. I always thought that putting peaches in the fridge was a no-no. But it makes sense if they're already ripe.

I thank him. Grab my peaches and my "This Side of Paradise" canvas bag Annie and I walk on to the next table. At the farmer's market, I gather produce and stories. Food has stories, as do I. I don't take it as far as the characters on "Portlandia," who want to know the name and background of the free range chicken they're about the eat. But I ask every vendor where they're from, as it usually carries a story. The young man selling roasted chilis is from Wellington and drives up to Cheyenne every weekday to wire new houses as an electrician. He's roasting and selling chilis on weekends. Building Cheyenne during the week. He rattled off the names of housing developments going up around the county. One on Four Mile Road. A big apartment complex on Fox Farm Road. He's working at The Pointe just north of us, wiring two to three houses a week.

The family-run Canning Crows from Cheyenne does what you'd expect from the name. Well, their goods are in jars but when people talk about preserving harvests they usually says they are "canning" cukes and tomatoes. Not "jarring," which is what it really is. It is jarring to me when they say canning. I buy a jar of Soldier Jam. "You can tell we're a military family," says the vendor with a smile. She points to a loaf of bread. "Survival Bread," she says. "My son was deployed." She tells me that a quarter of every sale of Soldier Jam goes to send jam to GIs overseas. "Or they can come by and pick it up here," she adds. I buy a jar of Soldier Jam and a loaf of Survival Bread. I also buy a big jar of dill pickles because I am a pickle fanatic. Dill pickle brine has loads of salt so after my heart attack, I cut back. Does pickling demand salt? A question for the Internet. I look forward to my lunch of bread and jam and pickles.

My dithering drives Annie crazy. She's 22 and prone to action. I tell her that farmer's markets are for lingering and conversation and learning about foods. The vendors have at least some interest in their products, or they wouldn't be here. They also are making a living. I can tell when my dithering makes them impatient. So I pay and move on. The coffee lady from Fort Collins sells me some nitro dark roast for my iced coffee. The last time I had nitro it was Odell's Cutthroat Porter from behind the bar at Peppermill's. The porter had a nice head on it. The coffee did not, which kind of surprised me. But it was tasty with some Half & Half and sugar.

We end of morning by buying some Colorado corn, although it seems early for corn. We get some local salsa and then head home to snack.

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